Everybody got some favourite albums. Music that accompanied yourself through difficult times, records that acted like a friend when there was real one around. Whether it was the sound around the times of your first kiss or the starting point of your own attempts to take a deeper look into new musical territories. We all have this record somewhere in our hearts and private collections. In this category NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION let the artist’s do the writing as they share their personal stories and feelings on their most loved record with us. This is the first issue of that new category. And our first contender is Katrina Ford, the charismatic lead-singer of Baltimore-based indie music institution CELEBRATION.
NEIL YOUNG – ‘Decade’ (1977)
It was hard for me to decide, what album influenced me most. There have been many, but without hesitation, my first thought was this one. My first memory of Christmas with my family includes this as its soundtrack. The most normal moment in my childhood memory. The closest we ever got to Rockwell. I was five years old. I remember the smells of bacon and coffee, cigarettes and marijuana. The sounds of Neil’s Heart of Gold on the turntable. My mom looking like Cher, in a mauve chenille robe with a peacock on the back, frying eggs, smoking and singing along. My dad cussing under the tree, his mustache twitching, assembling my doll house. We listened to it twice. Many years later, when I moved out of my dad’s house, he gave me this very record. It’s well worn. It was one of the few records my parents had agreed on. So it wove its way into my heart. I still listen to it. It has a purity and a vulnerability. I remember thinking that Neil was a woman before I could read. Seems funny to me now.
I’ve continued to have this on rotation in my life through so many changes. It has been the one constant, in an unpredictable life. There are so many songs that speak to me and I’ve gone through favorites.
As a child I was fascinated and scared of Sugar Mountain. ‘You can’t be twenty on Sugar Mountain, though you’re thinking that you’re leaving there too soon.’ Creepy if you don’t know his context. I just imagined a child cult on a mountain. Heart of Gold I will always love. The backing vocals are incredible (Taylor and Ronstadt). And the lyrics! Everybody always sings along, so sweet and tough.
On Broken Arrow, the production was far ahead of its time, sampled like field recordings mixed with live versions and magical studio takes. It’s all over the place! Then the baseball circus organ comes in. It’s completely seamless yet schizoid. All in a soft pillow of strings. Triumphant chorus then this canoodling Jazz reprise outro ending in a chesty heartbeat. AHHHHHHH so damn good!!
I mostly like to listen to this collection from beginning to end flipping all 4 records. But I went through a faze a few years back where I was drinking heavily, I frequently put Expecting to Fly on repeat, picking up the needle and returning over and over again, I think I made Sean listen to this 5 times in a row one night. Singing and swooning to every word. The string swell at the beginning. The soft melancholy ‘If I never lived without you, now you know I’d die.’ It chokes me up.
Cowgirl in the Sand has the best dirty tones. The guitar is nasty and unpretentious. The bass and drums shuffle on a badass riff, soft as cotton. The guitar tangles itself in an unselfconscious noodle. Muppet like backing vocals. Feels free and fun, occasionally tartly off the rails in a carpeted womb. Solider a live large cavity recording of him alone with a piano, insane reverb. This simple version of a song really lays naked everything about his song writing and his vocal delivery is so sad.